(1st Half of 8th Provincial Administration) Diplomacy is Golden Goose for Korea’s Growth; Gyeonggi’s International Cooperation Activities During Current Administration

Createdd 2024-06-04 Hit 27

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“We have become so close (with foreign dignitaries) through networking and familiar with diplomatic work that, if we need to, we can do it on our cell phones.” (Guided activity on May 25, the first day of Dodamso’s inaugural event)

“The connections made between Gyeonggi Province and California, Washington, Arizona and British Columbia through this trip will be the golden goose of Korea’s growth.” (May 18, Governor Dong Yeon Kim’s social media)

Gyeonggi Province’s actions during the first half of the current provincial administration have differed greatly from the those of the past, especially in the area of international exchange and diplomacy. Governor Dong Yeon Kim has met with dignitaries from around the world, touting “innovation alliances” to turn global crises – including high-tech industry, climate and economic crises – into new opportunities. More than just external visits, dignitaries from around the world are also visiting Gyeonggi Province. The list of people Governor Kim has met is diverse; it includes not only major American politicians, but also presidents and prime ministers, as well as ambassadors of key countries stationed in Korea, and global business leaders. In the two years since his election in June 2022, Governor Kim has met with more than 160 dignitaries from 37 countries. The seeds for Korea’s future have been sown in the first half of the current provincial administration, and the international exchange and diplomacy sector can be summarized as follows:

■ Promoted Economic Exchanges and Innovation Alliances with Foreign Leaders, including the Governor of California and Chinese Vice Premier He Yifeng

The United States is the country with which Gyeonggi Province has had the most meetings to strengthen international exchanges and cooperation. Immediately after his inauguration, Governor Kim visited the eastern U.S. to form an innovation alliance on strategic projects such as green mobility and secondary batteries with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and agreed to revitalize interregional relations through a phone call with Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin.

In the same month after Governor Kim’s return from the eastern U.S., Florida Governor Ron DeSantis led an international trade delegation to Korea and held a trade and investment partnership event to expand inter-regional economic exchanges, and Governor Kim proposed an innovation alliance for strategic industries such as bio and solar power generation. Prior to the Florida governor’s visit, the two regions held a Gyeonggi-Florida webinar on Florida’s business and investment environment.

In January this year, Governor Kim attended the Davos Forum, where he interacted with political and business leaders from around the world including Brian Kemp, Governor of the US state of Georgia. In May, he visited four regions including California, Washington and Arizona in the U.S. and BC in Canada. He met with the leaders of all four regions and established systems for cooperation.

In California, Governor Kim met with Governor Gavin Newsom and agreed to resume friendly cooperation between the two regions for the first time in 12 years, enabling exchanges and cooperation in the fields of climate change responses, high-tech industries, start-ups and people-to-people exchanges. This paved the way for exchanges and cooperation with Washington and Arizona, both of which receiving their first visits by a governor of Gyeonggi Province. In Arizona, Governor Kim met with Governor Katie Hobbs and signed a friendship and cooperation agreement. During his visit to the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC), which has a sister relationship with Gyeonggi Province, Governor Kim received a state-level welcome, further strengthening exchanges and cooperation between the two regions. Of particular note, BC Premier David Eby defied expectations that he would be unable to attend the event due to large-scale forest fires, personally welcoming Governor Kim and demonstrating the strength of Gyeonggi-BC bonds.

The relationship with San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria is also significant in that it continues to yield good results. Governor Kim met Mayor Gloria last October when the latter traveled to South Korea with a San Diego business mission. Governor Kim delayed his own overseas departure by a day and went out of his way to host Mayor Gloria and the San Diego delegation on a Sunday (a holiday), impressing Mayor Gloria and the 38 other delegation members. The San Diego Mayor then traveled to Siheung City, Gyeonggi Province, to sign an economic cooperation agreement related to the bio-industry. Representatives of UC San Diego, who were part of the San Diego economic mission, decided to participate in the Gyeonggi Youth Ladder Program this year. During his visit to North America, Governor Kim proposed cooperation with Biocom CA, the largest biotechnology association in the United States, and Illumina, a leader in genome analysis research, both of which were represented in the San Diego economic mission.

Governor Kim’s exchanges with China have also resulted in notable cooperation. During his visit to China in November last year, Governor Kim met with Liaoning Provincial Party Secretary Hao Feng as well as Chinese Central Politburo member and Vice Premier for Economic Affairs of the State Council Hur Feng to discuss the strengthening of exchanges and cooperation among local governments. As a key figure in charge of China’s economy, Vice Premier Hur was praised for discussing economic issues and strengthening exchanges at a crucial time for China-Korea cooperation. In April, Party Secretary Hao traveled to Gyeonggi Province for a second meeting with Governor Kim, where they signed a detailed agreement to build on the 31 years of achievements between Liaoning Province and Gyeonggi Province and strengthen cooperation in economic, industrial, cultural, sports, education and other fields. Party Secretary Hao, who traveled to South Korea at the invitation of Governor Kim, also met with Prime Minister Han Deok-soo and Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yeol during his visit. This was the first visit by a Chinese provincial Party chief to South Korea since the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, and it is significant in that the provincial cooperation between Gyeonggi and Liaoning has helped improve China-South Korea relations.

Governor Kim has also engaged in extensive discussions with foreign ambassadors. After meeting with U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg in November 2022, Governor Kim and Ambassador Goldberg attended the opening game of the Korea Baseball Organization league in Suwon in April 2023 to strengthen cooperation in innovation economy through baseball diplomacy. In September, Governor Kim visited Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek City and met with U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) Commander Paul LaCamera, U.S. Eighth Army Commander Willard Burleson and U.S. 7th Air Force Vice Commander Ryan Keeney to discuss ways to enhance communication and cooperation between Gyeonggi Province and the U.S. military. Other diplomats, including British Ambassador Colin Crooks, Chinese Ambassador Xing Haiming, and Latvian Ambassador Aris Vigants, have also continued their cooperation with Gyeonggi Province. Governor Kim also met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Polish Parliament Speaker Andrzej Jarosz, Catalan Government President Pere Aragonès (Spain), Île-de-France Regional Council President Valerie Pécres (France), and Vietnamese President Nguyễn Xuân Phúc to discuss cooperation.

■ Multifaceted Steps to Attract Overseas Investment

Attracting foreign investment has been a top priority for Gyeonggi Province under the current provincial administration. While attending the Davos Forum in January, Governor Kim interacted with people from around the world and encouraged global business leaders to invest in Gyeonggi Province.

Of particular note, a special session entitled “Gyeonggi Province and Innovators” that was moderated by Governor Kim during the Davos Forum was a highlight. “Gyeonggi Province is the center of Korea’s economy and high-tech industry,” said Governor Kim, calling on global startups to invest in the province. He also promoted the Pangyo+20 project, which will create 660,000 square meters of startup space in more than 20 locations centered on Pangyo Techno Valley, Korea’s Silicon Valley. Startup representatives attending the session expressed positive responses, such as “I want to do business with Korea in the advanced mobility industry,” raising the possibility of future investment.

In some cases, these efforts have resulted in actual investment. On a business trip to North America in May of this year, Governor Kim held two videoconferences to encourage investment from Company A, a global semiconductor materials company. Despite the CEO’s absence from the first meeting, Governor Kim was undeterred and requested a second meeting, during which the CEO announced his intention to invest USD 1 billion.

■ Solidarity with Local Governments and International Organizations

To foster joint cooperation in various fields, Gyeonggi Province has reached out to and strengthened solidarity with international organizations and local governments around the world.

In July, Governor Kim met with Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn to discuss the revitalization of tourism exchanges, and held the “Gyeonggi 2023 Tourism Fair in Bangkok” to attract overseas tourists to Gyeonggi Province. In October, Governor Kim visited Liaoning Province, Gyeonggi’s first sister province in China, to strengthen exchanges at the local government level, and jointly held the first tourism cooperation exchange meeting to mark the resumption of group tours to China. Twenty days after Governor Kim’s visit to Liaoning, an economic and trade exchange group consisting of 28 companies from Liaoning visited Gyeonggi Province and held the Gyeonggi-Liaoning Economic and Trade Seminar.

Governor Kim has been actively working to respond to the global climate crisis as the “Climate Governor.” During his visit to Thailand in July 2023, he met with UNESCAP Executive Director Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana and UNEP Regional Executive Officer for Asia and the Pacific Dechen Tsering to discuss environmental issues, including the role of local governments in responding to climate change. “Contrary to the laggard behavior of the Korean central government, Gyeonggi Province is the most proactive in Korea on climate change. One of my nicknames is ‘Climate Governor,'” he said, reiterating his strong commitment to addressing the climate crisis.

Last month, Governor Kim met with Washington Governor Jay Inslee, known as the Climate Governor of the United States, to recognize their shared commitment to addressing the climate crisis and agreed to form a working council to further strengthen cooperation.